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Axpona 2013 - Chicago March 8th - 10th - Page 2

post #16 of 27

 In addition I forgot to mention i heard the fosgate tube headphone amp on day 1 as well.It sounded very good driving both the sennheiser 800s and the audeze lcd 3s.It had a lot of the qualities you get when listening to tubes but the bass was pretty tight sounding.It was hard to hear it the way it could sound with all the ambient noise floating around the mezzanine level but it did sound like it is worth checking out the foisgate under more isolated conditions.
  I went back to the show on day 2 and went listening to mostly speaker based set ups and found that most of the setups were actually pretty good sounding with some but not severe room related problems like you get at a lot of these shows.It is hard getting a handle on what equipment actually sounds like when room problems are present and can severely skewerer the sound of a given set up.My kudos to a job well done in getting most of the set ups to a point were room problems do not limit the analysis.

 on day two I hit the other two floors and I missed and went back to some of the rooms I had gone to on day 1.

   The janszen room sounded pretty good using the e20dac from exaSound even though the room was smallish.They sounded quite large sounding for their somewhat compact dimensions being powered by bryston power blocks integral to the speaker but which have to purchased seperately.

  I liked the van alstine room it was very musical sounding through their speakers.This is the first time I have heard their speakers and they sounded good.The audio power labs room was amazing sounding they had a leonardo planar speaker paired with their equipment .The amps were very attractive looking tube mono blocks.Each amp has six tubes with one rather large tube.They were using the memory cd player if I am correct and the sound was gloriously relaxed and analog like for digital music.The speakers are rather large magnepan like speakers which I believe were from italy if I can recall.They were set up only about a couple of feet from the side walls and I was amazed at how coherent this room sounded.The speakers just disappeared and the room boundaries just disappeared as well.The exhibitor played back several digital file recordings including a sarah vaughn recording that sounded like she was in the room and things just sounded so analog like.I was at this room a bit longer than most.

  the YG acoustics carmel speaker sounded impressive and very palpable sounding using veloce monoblocks and a veloce preamp  with an accuphase cd player.The atmosphere room was great sounding too using a compact two way with a ribbon tweeter designed by the same person that designed and brought the red rose speaker to market.Apparently he has improved his design they sounded very coherent with much more body than one usually hears from a design with only a 5 1/2 inch bass driver.The bass was full bodied with good dynamics but also very tight and quick sounding as well.The atmosphere room was very listenable as well.

  I also visited the van l. speakerworks room and he was demoing his new silhouette floorstander to good effect with some mod wright equipment including their modded oppo bdp 105 with tube outputs and and this room sounded impressive as well while still beeing ralaxed and very analog like.I realy liked the setup.

   The holm audio room was using a floorstanding sony with technolgy passed down from their top of the line offerings and it sounded very good beeing relaxed and fairly resolute using a hegel preamp/amp setup.This is the first time I have heard hegel and it does sound good.

  The triode corporation room sounded good as well.The acoustic zen crescendo speaker sounded great with the TRIODE preamp and TRIODE trx-m845 mono block amps that were driving them.The build quality on the TRIODE amps is truely exceptional those transformers are large.

   I visited the heron room and they were playing vinyl and things sounded relaxed and very listenable on a vpi classic three turnatable setup If I can recall using a fairly large foorstanding speaker which heron is considering to produce.They imaged quite like a smaller speaker which was surprising for such a large speaker.

  I visited the decbal audio room and they wer demoing the new sphynx integrated from rogue audio.Wow does this amp sound great.The amp has a tube input section with a solid state output section.I think rogue is going to sell a ton of these it sounds simply unbelievably good for its 1395 dollar price.It even has a phono preamp in it. It has a headphone output which I listened to for,a couple of cuts and it souned pretty good with the premuim grado headphone he used.I think it was the gs 1000 wood enclosed phone.The speakers he was using to demo the amp with were the harbeth 30.1 monitors.The combination works really well and the sound was quite listenable.I think the rogue can compete with quite a few of the esoteric integrateds and not be embarrassed.

   I purchased several cd recordings from m.a recordings. The recording quality on this label is amazing. I only have to say the material might not be what most people like to listen to so be forewarned.They do make great demo cds and recordings but most of the music is not mainstream in the least  on the recordings that I purchased. Oh well that happens sometimes on audiophile recordings that initially impress us on a sonic basis.We find out in the long term that it sometimes is not something we want to listen to casually or for entertaiment.

 Well that is all I can remeber from day two after the sensory overload at the show.Speaking of that I was going to go home and relax after day two but I remembered that the northwestern university orchestra had a concert at the pick staiger concert venue.So I went to the concert.They played three pieces the Fantasia and Fugue in C minor from BACH arranged by ELGAR for orchestra, the ELGAR cello Concerto in E Minor OP. 85, and the BRAHMS Concerto No. 1 for Piano in D Minor OP. 15. Well it was awsome sounding in away that no soundsystem on earth can replicate. The sound of equipment can be good but really there is no way it can come close to the sound of the real thing.Case closed.

   

 

  


Edited by buson160man - 3/14/13 at 6:00am
post #17 of 27

Very fun show, just back from around 6.5 hours.

Need more time next year.

 

Here are pics of the new Abyss ($5,500) from JPS labs courtesy of the Cable Company.

I thought they were a little too thin sounding, nice clarity on top but not well rounded enough for me.

Was hooked up to a balanced Luxman they said cost $6,000.

I'd take the HE-6 or LCD-3 instead.

 

 

 

 

Some other interesting rooms:

 

 

Awful picture of Focal grand utopias with the giant new pass labs mono amps; the amps were as big as coffee tables (in the middle) two huge boxes for each channel. The Focals were also huge and taller than most of us in the room.

Biggest surprise of the show was how much I didn't groove on this system.

 

 

 

This was one of the best sounds of the show, $36,000 Sonus Fabers with a stunning array of Audio Research; bi-amped, solid state on the bottom and tubes on top, with an arsenal of four REL gibralters in back.

Everyone was stunned by this setup. I was blown away, almost literally.

 

 

 

Another favorite room was an unknown: Bogdan Audio. 
Bogdan makes his own speakers and tube amps.

They are jaw droppingly great.

I was the last one to leave this room as they were breaking it down around me.

Kudos to Bogdan for his dedication, passion and artistry.

That's him on the right in plaid with his son.

I urge everyone to check this out.

 

 

 

Another gem was Modwright, Van L Speakerworks and Dynamic Design cables.

Great sound, the jazz piano was legit.

Not sure about bass levels here, just jazz, lots of jazz.

Subwoofer was present but not turned on, think that would have been a plus.

 

 

 

Didn't spend loads of time here but Belgian speakers and Bulgarian electronics (i think) sounded damn good.

I think the electronics were $100,000 by themselves.

 

Other non-pic impressions:

 

Atma-Sphere electronics driving Classic Audio Loudspeakers.

Very different style speakers (old school horns, corner placement, etc) and sound.

Would like to check out more.

 

AIX Records had an intense surround sound with 4 B&W 802D's and matching center with five Bryston 7Bs.

Wham! Big, fast, intense, nice.

Frankly, I'd be happy with a two channel version and buy a second car with the other three channels.

 

Saturday Audio Exchange did an all McIntosh room with their classic retro tube amp (275), new digital preamp dac (only $2,500, serious deal) and their own speakers. I'm a Mac owner but have never heard their speakers. They sounded good but could have used a little more bass perhaps.

 

Finally had a chance to hear some Nelson Pass First Watt amps and Lowther America speakers.

The amps were $10,000 a pair and the Lowthers come in kit form for $4,500 or $12,000 assembled.

I didn't connect with these, not sure what it was, perhaps a little bit laid back.

 

Fun to meet Frank Van Altine, talk about old school. Frank invented the old school.

Hope to spend more time with him and his solid work.

 

Got to hear my first paid of Harbeths from Decibel Audio with Rogue hybrid integrated amp.

The 30.1 sounded good but the amp was smallish at $1,200 approx.

I liked em but the sound wasn't large enough for my taste, or the amp didn't have the guts to push them.

I tried to get them to fire up some rogue monoblocks and the larger harbeths but no luck.

 

Great to see some of the head-fiers there as well and Arnold from Tweak studios (who had equipment all over the show!).

 

First audio show in 14 years in chicago. My first non-head-fi hifi show. I really had a blast and loved the experience.

 

My most lasting impression:
I'm thinking of chucking my mcintosh gear and big b&w speakers and jumping into the tube and efficient speaker world.


Edited by attilahun - 3/10/13 at 7:51pm
post #18 of 27

 I thought the rogue sphinx sounded very impressive for its cost and I imagined rogue wanted to showcase their latest offering.I used to own harbeth 3esls and from what I remembered they really were great with small scale music but not so great with larger sounding music.They were very inefficient and just were not suited for rock.The harbeths are more about refinement than slam.I was also a b&w fan for a period of time and at the time went back to my b&w bookshelfs because they rocked more and could play louder music more freely.

  I recently moved on from my b&ws to active powered speakers.I find them more convenient and way better sounding than the B&W 600  series models that I owned.I now own emotivas both the airmotiv 5s and the airmotiv 6s and they are a lot more revealing than the B&Ws I had even though I was bi-amping the  B&Ws.The emotivas actives were still better.I am becoming a fan of active monitors they seem to be way more resolute than a lot of passive speakers that I have owned or heard.


Edited by buson160man - 3/10/13 at 11:17pm
post #19 of 27
I was at the show Saturday. It was nice to hear rigs I've only read about.
Th HD-800s couldn't have sounded more different between the solid state sennheiser booth and the Music Direct booth with the fosgate driving them. The LCD-3 sounded very nice off the Fosgate too.
HiFim8 drove Beyer T1s as loud as I could want. Michael Goodman was very busy and still took the time to get the rig running and answer questions. It was my first time hearing the beyers so I wish I could offer more insight into the sound.
ADL's new headphones sounded stupid good for the money through the GT. Ray was running a 176hz track through the setup. He said the 118 phones would be available in a few months.
The EF6 hifiman driving the HE-6 was my favorite of the show. The amp drove these things with a sense of ease. Given what I've read about the phones I was surprised the treble sounded so well integrated with the rest of the sound.
The benchmark front ends sounded very good driving some small monitors that sounded like full size speakers in one of the rooms. The Eximus room sounded great too, but they didn't have the headphone amp set up to play. I hoped to hear the Audio Electronics nighthawk, but that was sitting idle in one of the rooms too. Glad to catch a show like this close to home.
post #20 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by buson160man View Post

 I thought the rogue sphinx sounded very impressive for its cost and I imagined rogue wanted to showcase their latest offering.I used to own harbeth 3esls and from what I remembered they really were great with small scale music but not so great with larger sounding music.They were very inefficient and just were not suited for rock.The harbeths are more about refinement than slam.I was also a b&w fan for a period of time and at the time went back to my b&w bookshelfs because they rocked more and could play louder music more freely.

  I recently moved on from my b&ws to active powered speakers.I find them more convenient and way better sounding than the B&W 600  series models that I owned.I now own emotivas both the airmotiv 5s and the airmotiv 6s and they are a lot more revealing than the B&Ws I had even though I was bi-amping the  B&Ws.The emotivas actives were still better.I am becoming a fan of active monitors they seem to be way more resolute than a lot of passive speakers that I have owned or heard.

 

Agree, the sphinx was good sound for the price.

I think you're take on the harbeths is right on.

I love vocals but generally in rock and roll.

I like my b&w speakers but they are so power hungry i'm tired of chasing that dragon.

Have a genelec active 2.1 system on my computer and love them.

The elegance, simplicity and integration are great in active speakers.

Would definitely consider going that route in my larger system as you did.

post #21 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by Glam Bash View Post

I was at the show Saturday. It was nice to hear rigs I've only read about.
Th HD-800s couldn't have sounded more different between the solid state sennheiser booth and the Music Direct booth with the fosgate driving them. The LCD-3 sounded very nice off the Fosgate too.
HiFim8 drove Beyer T1s as loud as I could want. Michael Goodman was very busy and still took the time to get the rig running and answer questions. It was my first time hearing the beyers so I wish I could offer more insight into the sound.
ADL's new headphones sounded stupid good for the money through the GT. Ray was running a 176hz track through the setup. He said the 118 phones would be available in a few months.
The EF6 hifiman driving the HE-6 was my favorite of the show. The amp drove these things with a sense of ease. Given what I've read about the phones I was surprised the treble sounded so well integrated with the rest of the sound.
The benchmark front ends sounded very good driving some small monitors that sounded like full size speakers in one of the rooms. The Eximus room sounded great too, but they didn't have the headphone amp set up to play. I hoped to hear the Audio Electronics nighthawk, but that was sitting idle in one of the rooms too. Glad to catch a show like this close to home.

Agree on your hifiman impressions; the he6 and ef6 are one of the best values in high end headphones.

I've got the rsa dark star and custom cable from norse (balanced) waiting for my he6 from hifiman.

I sent in my pair replacement in January and am still waiting for the replacement pair.

They keep telling me a few more days.

I have no idea what's going on but I'm pulling my hair out.

post #22 of 27

Here are some pics.

 

Some flat panels.

 

 

The speakers below sounded really good to me.  They were huge.  I want to set them up as my PC speakers!  Second best sounding of the show.

 

 

These speakers were some of the nicest looking to me.

 

 

I think these speakers looked weird.  They are bigger then they look in the pic.

 

 

I always wanted to hear Legacy speakers.  Not sure if they had the big ones going.

 

 

Huge Focal speakers.  They were very loud and bright to me.

 

 

Really nice looking Sonus Faber speakers.  They never played any music I liked on them though.

 

 

 

 

How far can you lean back?

 

 

This set looked awesome!  You need a huge room for these!

 

 

I think this MBL system was the best sounding of the show.  They sounded much bigger then they were.

 

 

 

 

I need this set for my surround sound system.

 

 

Another Mbl system that was huge,  The sound was good from a reel to reel.

 

 

 

 

 

Not a great pic from my iPhone but this set of glass speakers I thought were the third best sounding of the show.

 


Edited by acidtripwow - 3/11/13 at 11:37am
post #23 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by attilahun View Post

Agree on your hifiman impressions; the he6 and ef6 are one of the best values in high end headphones.

I've got the rsa dark star and custom cable from norse (balanced) waiting for my he6 from hifiman.

I sent in my pair replacement in January and am still waiting for the replacement pair.

They keep telling me a few more days.

I have no idea what's going on but I'm pulling my hair out.

I would be bald by now, that's some nice kit to go with it. I left the show wondering if my WA6SE would drive them..

post #24 of 27

I missed the show, busy Friday, wanted to go Saturday but had tickets to the Chicago Symphony at night; contemplated going Sunday but never made it.

 

The sound from my Row 5 seats at the CSO was great- especially the Bartok piano concerto they did Saturday, man alive what a powerful pianist Yefim Bronfman is.  At one point I think he actually broke something in the CSO's Steinway....

 

Anyway, as great as the sound of the CSO is, I STILL regret missing Axpona.

 

Does anybody know if they will bring it back to Chicago next year?

 

 

 

I noticed that Magico wasn't listed among the exhibitors.  And they don't have a dealer in the Chicago area, either. What's up with that? Chicago has it's share of billionaires living here, it's not as if there's no one here that can afford Magico....


Edited by milosz - 3/12/13 at 3:57am
post #25 of 27

I was at the show Sat & Sun.

Mos of the displays were OK, but there were a few standouts to me.

 

VonSchweikert was good, and it was nice to see Albert & Damon again. I own their VR-33 speakers so I'm a bit of a fanboy, but in the huge mega buck speaker category, I think they were one of the better rooms.

 

Speaking of mega buck, I hit all 3 MBL rooms. The smallest model didn't do much for me. The room with the largest model was very very good, but I thought the bass didn't sound right. The middle size model was fantastic. They were playing Beatles on the reel to reel and I was hearing things I never heard before. The stereo image was impressive, the speakers disappeared and you were in the room with the Fab 4.
 

I thought the Volti horn speakers were something special and had a very live sound. Too bad they won't fit in my living room.

 

The Focal Grand Utopia speakers were just so-so as were the Legacy speakers which sounded dull and rolled off to me. Could have been the room or set up, because I have a friend with a pair of their Focus speakers which are quite incredible. 

 

The ones that really, really impressed me were the Wisdom Audio speakers in the JPaul Designs room. In addition to sounding great, they actually got an emotional response out of me as I was that wrapped up in the music. 

 

Ran into fellow Head-fi guys, Rosco, Rob, Keith, & Steve. Great to see you guys as always.

post #26 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by milosz View Post

I missed the show, busy Friday, wanted to go Saturday but had tickets to the Chicago Symphony at night; contemplated going Sunday but never made it.

 

The sound from my Row 5 seats at the CSO was great- especially the Bartok piano concerto they did Saturday, man alive what a powerful pianist Yefim Bronfman is.  At one point I think he actually broke something in the CSO's Steinway....

 

Anyway, as great as the sound of the CSO is, I STILL regret missing Axpona.

 

Does anybody know if they will bring it back to Chicago next year?

 

 

 

I noticed that Magico wasn't listed among the exhibitors.  And they don't have a dealer in the Chicago area, either. What's up with that? Chicago has it's share of billionaires living here, it's not as if there's no one here that can afford Magico....

   You are in luck axpona just sent me a email saying the show was a success with over 4000 attendees.They have announced they are returning next year and say they have a long list of exhibitors who would like to book the show a lot of them where at the show this year and want to return next year.If you missed anything this year(I wished I had remebered the tape project people I wanted to see and hear their open reel tape decks damn!!!!! hope they return next year) maybe you can check them out next year.

   I had a grand time on friday and saturday.I missed a few rooms this year but I did check out quite a bit of them, most of the ones I had wanted to check out and some I had not intended to check. I did get to hear some great sounding rooms. I had intended to go sunday because  I bought a three day pass but I listened to the cds I had bought at the show till almost 4 o clock  am sunday morning and with the time change sunday I just got messed up and was not able to get going early enough to make the show worthwhile going to. It would have been two o clock and the show was only on till I believe 4 o clock .The parking would have set me back thirteen dollars and for only two hours that just was not worth it.You can see my impressions under axpona 2013 that I have posted.I did go to a northwestern symphony concert on saturday night and enjoyed the concert.I have to say like I posted in one of my axpona posts that listening to high end systems is nice but there is no way it can come even close to the real thing.

   Oh by the way I believe quintessence audio in morton grove is a magico dealer.I have heard some of their offerings at quintessence but magicos sound just does not float my boat.


Edited by buson160man - 3/12/13 at 10:16am
post #27 of 27

>>they are returning next year<<

 

THANKS  for letting me know!!!

 

 

I'm glad they had a good turnout. There are a lot of audio-loving folk in Chicago, and a fair number of younger people who are into vinyl, small tube gear and so on.  The Industry needs to attract these younger people if it is to sustain and survive.

 

RE: Magicos -  there is so much said about these speakers that I wanted to hear them.  Yeah, Quintessence, I just looked and they are Magico dealers.  I'll have to go out there.

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